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Indian Minorities to Vote For BJP: Myth or a Reality?

© AP Photo / Mahesh Kumar A.Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets supporters as he arrives for an election campaign rally of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Hyderabad, India, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets supporters as he arrives for an election campaign rally of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Hyderabad, India, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 10.04.2024
Ahead of India's 2024 general elections, the BJP aims for 370 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, a goal experts say depends on winning minority support. Sputnik India explores the party's success in attracting minority votes during its tenure.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's mantra of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka prayaas' ("collective support, development, trust, and effort") has gained worldwide attention, particularly ahead of national elections in India.
Western countries and the media affiliated with them have often mocked Modi and his political outfit, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), especially in the aftermath of the consecration ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, which they allege was built on a razed Muslim mosque, though historical evidence shows that it was a "disputed structure" at best because the followers of Islam never prayed there.
Furthermore, issues such as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which is meant to grant citizenship to persecuted minorities, excluding Muslims from Islamic nations - Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, have been dubbed as anti-Muslim by the critics of the BJP.
Yet the BJP has gone all out to win over the hearts of India's minorities through its non-discriminatory government schemes that are said to be benefiting millions of Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs, across the length and breadth of the country.

Modi: The Messiah of the Poor in India

The National President of BJP's Minority Morcha (Cell) Jamal Siddiqui acknowledges that the party has made immense efforts to bring Muslims to its fold.

"The PM Modi-led central government has launched 350 schemes for minorities, and coupled with other programs have benefitted a large section of Muslims and Christians," Siddiqui told Sputnik India on Tuesday.

Jamal Siddiqui noted that the programs, which had the most impact were:
Jan Dhan Yojana (scheme for financial inclusion of the poor);
Ujjwala Yojana (government scheme to provide free cooking gas connections to poverty-stricken women), Kisan Samman Nidhi (annual income support to farmers),
Ayushman Bharat (national health protection scheme that provides a cover ₹500,000 per family for 500 million vulnerable Indians);
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (scheme to provide affordable housing for low-income residents).
The BJP politician added that even Islamic countries in the Middle East have appreciated Modi for his outreach towards the Muslims of India, with multiple nations, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Bahrain, Maldives, and Afghanistan conferring him with their highest civilian honors.
"This signals that not just in India, but the people residing abroad see Modi as the Messiah of the poor," Siddiqui pointed out.
© Photo : Narendra Modi's TwitterModi's visit to Egypt
Modi's visit to Egypt - Sputnik India, 1920, 10.04.2024
Modi's visit to Egypt
He underlined that for the first time in the history of India, the Muslims have a leader in Modi, who is not interested in the politics of appeasement and instead wants to genuinely create educational and employment opportunities for them, which would lead them to live a life full of self-respect.
Therefore, there's no iota of doubt that Muslims in the country are not only praying for the return of Modi but will also be voting for him in the forthcoming elections.

BJP's Muslim Outreach Connects 6 Million With the Party

Siddiqui stated that he was confident about the BJP gaining Muslim votes in the polls because as part of its outreach programs toward the community in India, the party's Minority Morcha organized around 44,000 dialogue initiatives wherein approximately 6 million people of the Islamic faith connected with the political outfit.
"The Modi Mitr (friend) program helped us reach out to 2.2 million Muslims, through which we connected them directly with the Prime Minister. In addition to that, at least 14,000 organizations that are broadly related to Sufism in India, were attached to the government's schemes," he revealed.
Most importantly, the PM has shown a keen desire to uplift the masses, especially the downtrodden Muslims that are called Pasmanda, comprising nearly 85 percent of the Muslim population in the country that were overlooked by previous governments, the BJP minority cell head asserted.
Despite Siddiqui's claim that BJP would get a considerable chunk of the Muslim vote in the 2024 national polls, Hyderabad-based psephologist JVC Sreeram doesn't see the party fetching a high percentage of votes from the community though he agrees that there would be a slight increase in its Muslim vote share.
For instance, in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the BJP managed to secure 8 percent of Muslim votes, which Sreesam reckons is set to rise by about five percent in the 2024 national polls.
© AP Photo / Deepak SharmaSupporters of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, celebrate early leads for the party in Rajasthan state elections in Jaipur, India, Sunday, Dec.3, 2023.
Supporters of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, celebrate early leads for the party in Rajasthan state elections in Jaipur, India, Sunday, Dec.3, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 10.04.2024
Supporters of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, celebrate early leads for the party in Rajasthan state elections in Jaipur, India, Sunday, Dec.3, 2023.

BJP to Gain a Foothold Among Christians in Kerala

On the other hand, down south in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, he believes the BJP would find resonance in certain areas, especially among Christians.
Christians make up about 18 percent of the total population in Kerala and are a deciding factor in many constituencies in India's southernmost state.

"I can see a change of perception in some constituencies as far as Tamil Nadu and Kerala are concerned. In Kerala, in places like Thiruvananthapuram, Attingal, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur, where if the Christians think that the BJP has a chance to win, they could probably support it," Sreeram mentioned while speaking to Sputnik India.

"That would also be upper class Christians and perhaps Roman Catholics and I can see the same trend as far as Kanyakumari is concerned, where purely on the basis of development, with the voters realizing that what the MP of that constituency can bring to the table can probably move some Christian votes to the BJP," he noted.
Former federal minister Pon Radhakrishnan is the BJP candidate from Kanyakumari and previously won the elections from there in 2014 with a margin of over 100,000 votes.
Jojo Jose, the National Executive member of the BJP's minority wing, however, doesn't agree with Sreeram's assessment because he is expecting a noticeable shift in the Christian perception of the political party.

Strong Relationship Between the BJP and Christians Inevitable

"The strong relationship between the BJP and Christians is inevitable for the benefit of this country, especially when the overall population of the community in India stands at 2 percent but they control at least 10 percent of formal educational institutions. Moreover, major hospitals across the nation belong to them. Hence, these two percent can be termed as the largest NGO in India," Jose said in a conversation with Sputnik India.

Additionally, he opined that Prime Minister Modi's hosting of Christian leaders at his residence on Christmas Eve last year has cemented the relationship between the BJP and Christians.
According to him, the overall vote share of the BJP will rise significantly in Kerala, with a large chunk of Christians favoring the party in many parliamentary seats of the state because the Christians are now facing another problem, which is radical Muslims targeting Christian women for marriage.

"Ultimately, the Christians realize that it is the BJP that is opposing the radical Islamic groups and their future can only be safe in the hands of a party that doesn't patronize such organizations. Though not in very big numbers, a good percentage of Christians have now gradually started to support the BJP in all elections," he concluded.

Supporters of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) shout slogans, during a rally supporting the implementation of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizenship (NRC), in Kolkata, India, Monday, Dec. 23, 2019. - Sputnik India, 1920, 07.04.2024
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